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Big savings headed to GM's Toledo Transmission Plant

August 25, 2011 9:00:00 PM PDT
A new project has come to light at GM's Toledo Transmission plant that will save the automaker a lot of money. Solar energy is going to start helping power the plant in the coming months. GM expects to save a million dollars or more on energy costs in the next twenty years. Site utilities manager Tom Wynn says the rooftop solar array will generate big savings for the Toledo Transmission plant, "What we're looking for is a clear view, clear exposure to the southern sky to get the maximum amount of solar gain on the solar panels. There's 6-800 thousand square feet up here and we'll do the solar array in three phases. The first phase will be to the south and that will be about 150 thousand square feet, then we'll have the two additional phases.'

Plant Manager Joe Choate says crews are expected to begin installing the solar array in October, " It's going to be 7-8 percent of our total demand usage will be provided by solar panels rather than buying it off the grid." Choate says the project will not only save gm money but it will help support local companies, "The deal is that it's all American made. The racks that hold them in place are from a local company. It's great that this is primarily a northwest Ohio project.'

While the solar array will be installed in three phases, energy can start being pulled from the panels as soon as phase one is finished. Facilities Manager Doug Rowe says phase one should be finished by November, "The sun goes through the panels. The panels distribute the electricity to the substation which in turn powers the equipment on the machining floor."

Rowe says the project will set a record in the auto industry, "It will make us the largest solar array in any automotive company across the United States." The current title holder for biggest solar array at an automotive factory is also a General Motors plant.

The solar array at the Toledo Transmission plant will be owned an operated by Solscient, a local company that will generate the energy and then sell it back to GM. All three phases should be finished by mid 2012. There is no up front cost for GM.

Libbey is also going to be using solar energy to help power its Toledo plant.

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